The holiday season is once again upon us. Consumers are already marking important dates like Black Friday and Cyber Monday in their calendars to grab the best deals for Christmas and Hanukkah well before they arrive. You have to start planning early to get the biggest possible boost from customers, but what are you doing to protect your business and your customers from holiday fraud?

Shopping online is a great convenience that more people engage in each year. They can compare prices from retailers around the globe and expand their options without ever leaving the comfort of home. With the world of retailers at their hands, they can find the item they want in the color and size that they prefer. When they make a purchase on your website, how safe is their information?

When hackers access and use unsuspecting shoppers’ information, retailers are often hit the hardest. With so many people using social media, emails, and other digital platforms to do their holiday shopping, retailers face the growing challenge of deciphering between orders that are legitimate and those that aren’t. Gone are the days of a simple address check or quick phone call to make sure your customers are legit. Fraudsters today have sophisticated systems. With an increase in black market activity, thanks in part to dozens of data breaches from some of the largest companies around, online retailers experienced nearly $60 billion in e-commerce fraud losses.

The Equifax Breach

We’ve all seen the news, and it’s been quite the hot topic. During the period of mid-May through July of this year, a breach to Equifax resulted in hackers gaining access to social security numbers, addresses, and birth dates. In some cases, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and dispute documents containing personal information were obtained. It was reported that hackers obtained information from as many as 143 million Americans in addition to consumers in the UK and Canada. Talk about a nightmare for your online business!

How to Reduce the Impact

There is no way to guarantee that the breach will have a significant impact the trend to shop online. Instead of just waiting to find out how things turn out, there are some steps online merchants can take to prevent an influx of fraudulent orders.

  • Know What to Look for – But Don’t Overreact – A dramatic change in location may indicate that the client is not who they say they are. It could also mean that the client is visiting family or friends abroad during their holiday vacation. Your software shouldn’t automatically decline a sale based on location alone, but it should send you a warning. Once you get it, make a manual verification, so you know to send the order through.
  • Logins from New Devices – People love their cell phones and laptops, and many opt to trade theirs in for the most advanced models available. Keep this in mind the next time an order like this raises a red flag. It’s good to be diligent, but don’t jump to conclusions. It might be the customer, but you need to follow up on the new login to make sure.
  • Unusually Large Orders – Most of us are creatures of habit. We eat the same foods, go to the same places, and make the same type of purchases. Drastic changes to a consumer’s behavior could be cause for concern. Velocity monitoring is a great way to stay on top of any potential issues the moment they happen.
  • Multiple Logins – Sometimes we forget passwords, and a client may be trying to remember which of several user ID and password combinations they used last at your store. Verify their identity to make sure it isn’t a hacker looking for the right information. Account takeover is at an all-time high with an increase of 45% this year alone.
  • Express or Overnight Shipping – Most fraudsters are in a hurry to get their stolen items while legitimate customers will usually shop early to get the lowest price.

So, what’s the bottom line? Employ a multi-faceted approach that your customers will see as good customer service, not a rejection of their business. We understand what it takes to get in front of that customer and the effect it may have when rejecting a good order. Join us next week as we discuss “How To Avoid Holiday Chargebacks This Season,” and stay off the naughty list with Visa and Mastercard.